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Robot Cars Still Need Human Drivers

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    Self-driving or “robot” cars are expected to revolutionize the automobile industry.

    [See the full post at: Robot Cars Still Need Human Drivers]


    This seems a weak position to me.

    Firstly, driverless cars don’t need to be perfect, just better than humans. If we can reduce the current 1.5 million deaths in car accidents that is worthwhile.

    The aviation analogy is telling. Commercial aircraft have limited automation, and problems occur at the interface between humans and technology. Despite this the official statistics show 57% of crashes to be caused by pilot error. The figure is certainly higher when driving.

    Of course some advances in automation have happened. As an ex-military pilot I have watched with interest as ever more roles are handed over to drones, and I suspect the last generation of fighter pilots is already alive in the west.

    Driverless cars are not ready – I suspect we can agree on they – but neither are the manufacturers suggesting they are. Even Google’s limited buggy for metropolitan use aiming for the end of this decade.

    I think it’s also important to consider the implications of your suggestion that the cars hand control back to the drivers when necessary. As you point out, this is quite a mental step for humans – even more so if the are inebriated, blind, children, or just don’t have a driving license. These are all use cases the driverless revolution will be aiming to support.

    I think my best advice is to wait and see, and remember Lord Kelvin, the famous British physicist who declared “heavier than air flight is impossible” only 8 years before the Wright brothers showed it to the world.

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